Finally, the announcement farmers and ethanol industry members have been waiting for. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the agency’s plan for selling E15 all year long.
“Today’s proposed rule is great progress to getting the rulemaking completed by the start of the summer driving season, June 1,” National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp said in a statement on Tuesday. “Allowing year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol not only grows a domestic market for farmers, but E15 gives consumers more choice at the pump, a lower price option and greater environmental benefits from a cleaner fuel. It’s time to remove the barrier to all of these benefits.”
Similarly, Geoff Cooper president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said the announcement is “one step closer” to making good on President Trump’s promise to allow E15 sales all year. However, Cooper says getting rule finalized and implemented in time for the driving season is “a tall order.”
“That is why we have urged EPA to separate the year-round E15 provisions from the RIN reform provisions, and move forward as quickly as possible to finalize a practical and defensible year-round E15 solution,” he said in a statement.
Other groups, like the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), have concerns about the RIN reforms outlined in the rule.
“We need to better understand the language included about Renewable Identification Numbers (RINS) and the impact that it would have to our farmer,” Curt Mether, president of ICGA said in a statement.
Similarly, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s concerned by some details of the rule.
“I’m still reviewing the proposed rule, and while I have some concerns about certain details, this is a significant step in the right direction and puts E15 on track for approval by summer driving season,” he said. “Ending the nonsensical ban on summertime sales of higher blends of ethanol is a no-brainer and a big victory for Iowa, Midwest farmers and the country as whole.”
Despite the excitement of this step forward for ethanol sales, American Coalition For Ethanol (ACE) president Brian Jennings said the small refinery exemptions still need to be addressed.
“As pleased as we are with this important step in the process, the upside potential of E15 year-round will be blunted unless and until EPA returns sanity to the way it handles Small Refinery Exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” he said in a statement. “EPA needs to restore the 2.25 billion gallons of biofuel blending obligations waived for large, profitable refineries.”